You can still register. All events are free and open to the public, both students and non-students.
Monday, March 12
o 1- 3:00 PM Housing check-in for people who have signed up for housing. Meet at The Goodall Wooten Co-ed Dormitory, 2112 Guadalupe (Corner of 21st and Guadalupe). Most people will be staying here, however some people will be at a couple of other locations. If you can not check in by 3 PM, then just go directly to the location of the first event and you can check in to your room after the workshops.
o 3-3:30 PM — Meet for snacks and socializing before the first speaker. Waggener 101 on the UT-Austin campus. Map
o 3:30-4 PM — Introduction to the Alternative Spring Break by Hooman Hedayati of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network. Waggener 101 on the UT-Austin campus. Map
o 4:00-5:30 PM Workshop: “Influencing the Texas Legislature” with Les Breeding, former legislative director for a member of the Texas Legislature. During the workshop, participants will learn how to interact effectively with legislators or legislative aides and plan for the next day’s lobby day. Waggener 101 on the UT-Austin campus. Map
o 5:30 – 6:00 PM Free food and drinks
o 6:00 – 7:00 PM “Innocence and The Death Penalty”, a talk and question and answer discussion with Sam Milsap, former Bexar County District Attorney. Mr Milsap prosecuted Ruben Cantu, but now believes that Cantu may have been innocent. Cantu was executed in 1993. Waggener 101 on the UT-Austin campus. Map
o 7 – 8 PM Sign-making and other preparation for next day’s rally at the Capitol (back at Goodall Wooten)
o Evening Time on your own for enjoying Austin, including the SXSW film festival.
Tuesday, March 13 Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day
o 9:30 AM – 11 AM, Lobby Training Workshop for anyone coming to Austin just for lobby day. Location: Conference room 1-104 in the W.B. Travis State Office Building (WBT on map), 17th and Congress. Parking is available either at meters along nearby streets or a short walk away at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $.75 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $6.00) Map of the Capitol Complex.
o 9:00 AM – 11 AM Possible morning lobbying appointments for people who attended the lobby training workshop on Monday. If you live in Texas, you should find out who your state senator and representative are before you come to Austin and call them and make an appointment to visit them either for this morning or afternoon, whenever they or their staff members are available. When you call, tell them you live in their district and you are coming to Austin to visit them. If you are not a resident of Texas, don’t worry, we will pair you up with someone else to go lobby.
o 10 AM Start setting up for rally at capitol (Meet in the Goodall Wooten lobby)
o Noon: “Day of Innocence” Rally on South Steps of Capitol Speakers include Kerry Cook, an innocent man who spent 22 years on Texas Death Row and recently wrote a book, “Chasing Justice”; state legislators; Shujaa Graham, an exonerated former death row inmate; Renny Cushing, Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights; Martha Cotera, whose 25-year-old son Juan Javier was murdered in a carjacking and drowning in Austin in 1997; Christina Lawson, Director of Victim’s of Texas, a student speaker from the alternative spring break; Bill Pelke, chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and director of Journey of Hope, and others TBA.
o 1:00 PM Lunch in capitol cafeteria
o Afternoon: Visits with legislators and/or their aides. Attendance at possible committee hearings
o 5 PM Meet in the Capitol Cafeteria to snack, socialize and exchange information about what people learned during their visits with legislative offices.
o 5:30 PM “Art and Activism” Talk with Scott Cobb, who organized the art show “Justice for All?: Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty”. A selection of death penalty themed artworks will be on display in level E2 of the capitol annex. We will meet on E2 for the talk and to view the artworks.
o 7 PM – Screening of RACE TO EXECUTION. The movie reveals how, beyond DNA and the issue of innocence, the shameful open secret of America’s capital punishment system is a matter of race. Once a victim’s body is discovered, his or her race—and the race of the accused—deeply influence the legal process: how a crime scene is investigated and the deployment of police resources, the interrogation and arrest of major suspects, how the media portrays the crime and ultimately, the jury selection and sentencing. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
o Evening more time on your own for enjoying Austin
Wednesday, March 14
o 11:00 AM – 1 PM: Murder Victim Family Member and Former Death Row Inmate Panel. Location for morning and afternoon workshops: Conference room 1-104 in the W.B. Travis State Office Building (WBT on map), 17th and Congress.
o Panelists include:
+ Renny Cushing: Founder and Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights. His father’s murder in 1988 has shaped his work as an advocate for crime victims and as an opponent of capital punishment. As a victim-abolitionist Renny has been a pioneer in the effort to bridge death penalty abolition groups and the victims’ rights movement.
+ Shujaa Graham, an African American man who spent 3 years of his life on California’s death-row for a crime he did not commit
+ Moreese “Pops” Bickham, who was on death row when the Furman v Georgia decision was announced in 1972 abolishing the death penalty. He is now the oldest living survivor of the Furman v Georgia decision.
+ Christina Lawson, who has suffered the loss of her father and her husband. Her father was murdered when she was a child and her husband, David Martinez, was executed this past summer, July 28, 2005. She has witnessed the pain from both sides: the loss of her father, the anger and hate felt towards his killer, the loss of her husband, the sorrow for his victim’s family and loved ones, the loss of a Daddy for their child. She has realized through her pain, that the death penalty does not bring anyone back, it does not heal anyone… it brings back the pain of losing a loved one and destroys another innocent family.
o 1:00 – 2 PM Lunch Break
o 2 – 3:30 PM Workshop: “Youth Media Workshop” led by Campus Progress. Conference room 1-104 in the W.B. Travis State Office Building (WBT on map), 17th and Congress.
o 3:30 – 4:30 Workshop “How to Debate the Death Penalty” led by Bryan McCann, UT’s debate team coach. They are #1 in the nation. Bryan is a member of Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Conference room 1-104 in the W.B. Travis State Office Building (WBT on map), 17th and Congress.
o Break and time to get dinner
o 7 PM Book Signing and Reading/Discussion with Joan Cheever. Cheever’s book “Back From The Dead” is the story of 589 former death row inmates who, through a lottery of fate, were given a second chance at life in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished; it returned to the United States four years later. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
Thursday, March 15: Direct Action Day
o 10AM-Noon: Skills Building Workshop: “Winning Step-By-Step: How to Organize and Win Moratorium and Abolition Resolutions at the Grassroots Level” led by Everette Catilla. This workshop will cover how to convince student governments, city councils, churches and othe:r organizations to pass resolutions. Everette works for Equal Justice USA (www.ejusa.org). EJUSA is a national leader in the movement to halt executions, providing hands-on technical assistance, grassroots organizing support, and capacity building to state and local campaigns across the country. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
o Noon to 1:00 PM Lunch on your own
o 1:00 – 1:50 “How to Organize and Run a Non-profit Organization”. We will discuss possible activities that students can organize when they return home. The information in this workshop can be applied to running a student organization or any non-profit organization. Workshop will be led by Kristin Houlé, who until recently served as the Program Associate for Amnesty International USA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, based in Washington, DC. She has been involved with Amnesty International for more than 12 years and held several volunteer leadership roles (including State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator for Kentucky) before joining the staff in 2002. Kristin has been the lead organizer of AIUSA’s National Weekend of Faith in Action on the Death Penalty (NWFA). In 2007, Kristin received a Soros Justice Fellowship to work on the issue of the death penalty and mental illness in Texas. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
o 1:50 – 2:00 Break
o 2:00 – 3:00 Mental Illness and the Death Penalty led by Kristin Houlé. UTC 1.146 on the UT-Austin campus. Map.UTC is next to the PCL Library.
o 3:00 – 6 PM Organize and Carry out a direct action (possibly at the Governor’s Mansion). The type, location and message of the direct action will be decided on by the students.
o 6 PM – Petition Signature Gathering Competition: (Time and day to be determined) We will divide into teams and fan out throughout Austin to collect signatures on a petition against the death penalty. People can collect signatures at places such as where SXSW events are taking place, outside certain bookstores or other stores if they allow it, on the streets in downtown Austin and wherever else the teams want to try. The team that collects the most petition signatures (with names, addresses, email addresses and possibly phone numbers) will win a prize of $100. We will decide as a group what size the teams can be. Options are 1, 2, 3, 4, or more person teams.
o 9 PM – Meet back at Goodall Wooten for some food and discussion of the direct action as well as the entire spring break. Fill out feedback forms.
Friday, March 16: Fun Day
* This is Spring Break, so today we will have some fun and take a break after all the hard work we have done all week. Everyone is free to choose their own activities. Some things people could do are: Go swimming at Barton Springs Pool, attend a SXSW film or music event, go shopping, take a Segway tour of Austin, go jogging around Town Lake, go bike riding, visit a museum or do something else. Some of these activities cost money, so plan accordingly.
* 11 AM — UT Campus tour for anyone interested –
Each day, they offer two student-guided walking tours of campus for prospective students and families that begin at the Main Building (“UT Tower”) and cover the center of campus from the unique perspective of a current student. This is one of the best ways to get a feel for campus, and we recommend that all prospective students who are mobile sign up for the tour. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, and feel free to bring your camera. You can also register for info sessions and other tours.
Saturday, March 17
o Students leave Austin Saturday if they did not leave Friday. If they are staying in the Goodall Wooten dormitory, they are welcome to sleep in the dorm Friday and leave Saturday morning.